Popcorn is one of America' s most popular snacks, whether it' s the kind provided in movie theater buckets or the kind you manufacture at home. Even if you consider yourself a regular kernel aficionado, there' s definitely a lot you don' t know about this popular cuisine, especially when it comes to your health.
If you enjoy this poppable food, you may not be aware of a startling popcorn side effect: eating popcorn may help lower your risk of cardiovascular disease.
" Popcorn is a whole grain, which means it' s high in fiber and polyphenols. Popcorn' s fiber aids in the removal of cholesterol from the body, lowering levels of this material that can be damaging to heart health " Balance One Supplements licensed dietitian Trista Best, MPH, RD, LD, explains. (For more information, see 5 Drinks That Could Cause a Heart Attack, According to Science. )
" Polyphenols are plant compounds that fight free radicals in the body. When we eat free radicals and poisons from entire food sources, we are supporting our bodies in cleansing themselves of free radicals and poisons that can cause cellular damage and eventually chronic illnesses " She said" .
In fact, according to a 2014 study published in Nutrition, Metabolism, and Cardiovascular Diseases, people with the greatest levels of polyphenols in their diets had a 46 percent lower risk of cardiovascular disease than those with the lowest amounts of polyphenols in their diets.
So, how much of a polyphenol boost do you receive from eating popcorn? Researchers from the University of Scranton discovered that a single serving of popcorn not only contains over 70% of the RDA of whole grains, but also contains more polyphenols per serving than fresh corn or any of the fruits the researchers compared the snack to, according to research presented at the American Chemical Society' s (ACS) 243rd National Meeting & Exposition in 2012.
However, you shouldn' t expect to get all of those heart- healthy benefits from just any popcorn, especially if you' re eating the oil- popped, butter- drenched variety sold in buckets at your local movie theater. " This effect is completely eliminated if popcorn is made with butter and oil, " explains Best.
A large canola oil- popped popcorn serving at AMC Theaters has 980 calories, 44 grams of fat (including 3. 5 grams of saturated fat), and 2400 milligrams of salt, which is more than the maximum limit of what the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) considers safe for an adult to ingest in one day.
Given the links between high- fat diets and excessive sodium consumption and heart disease, the oil and salt in this otherwise healthy snack can quickly convert it into a bad decision for your heart.
Furthermore, those jumbo- sized movie theater servings may lead to overeating, which can lead to weight gain, which is a known risk factor for heart disease. According to a 2005 study published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, even people who disliked the taste of stale popcorn ate 33. 6 percent more when given a large container than when given a medium- sized one.
So, if you' re going to eat this snack, make sure it' s air- popped, season it with spices rather than salt or high- fat toppings, and restrict yourself to a few cups at a time. Do you want to find out what else popcorn can do to your body?
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